After nearly a year of border closure due to covid-19 risks, New Zealand will resume its refugee resettlement program from this month. The first group containing 35 refugees are arriving soon in February itself- said Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in a statement on Friday.
Jacinda Ardern-led government increased yearly refugee intake from 1,000 to 1,500 which was to be started from July 2020. But the arrivals were held-off due to the coronavirus outbreak. In mid-March last year the prime minister of New Zealand shut the border and announced not to open the border until all the New Zealanders are “protected” from the virus. After months of fighting with covid-19, New Zealand has become one of the first countries to have zero domestically-bred cases. The better covid situation in the island country has paved the way for refugees to start their new lives in New Zealand.
With “health protocols in place” and “safe travel routes”, small cohorts of refugee families are welcomed in New Zealand – says Fiona Whiteridge, head of Refugee and Migrant Services of the INZ. The arriving refugees have to complete a compulsory 14-day quarantine set by the government. After the isolation is over, they will be sent to Mangere Refugee Resettlement Center for their final housing arrangements. All the arriving refugees will be offered permanent residence. It is expected that by the end of June, nearly 210 refugees will arrive in New Zealand.
Kris Fafoi, the Immigration Minister of New Zealand recommitted New Zealand’s strong position of supporting the most vulnerable people to begin their lives as New Zealanders. New Zealand has already set an example for early response to the pandemic, many believe the country is going to set another one with its humanitarian policy in the coming days.